Sylvania Electric Products explosion

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On the morning of July 2, 1956, an explosion involving scrap thorium occurred at the Sylvania Electric Products' Metallurgical Laboratory in Bayside, Queens, New York. Nine people were injured,[1][2] some severely. One employee died on August 6, 1956. Workers described three fireballs.[3]

Sylvania was experimenting with large-scale production of thorium metal from thorium dioxide. Part of the process of shutting down this experiment was the reprocessing and burning of thorium metal powder sludges that went unprocessed during the experiment. It was during the incineration of this material that the explosion occurred. At the time the metallurgical properties of thorium were not well understood. The employee died from the effects of radiation, but official reports at the time denied this. The debris from the explosion was disposed of in the ocean.[3]


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Coordinates: 40°47′14″N 73°47′13.3″W / 40.78722°N 73.787028°W / 40.78722; -73.787028